The first thing I notice is that this wine is delicious. It has everything: fruit, weight, bitterness, savoriness, minerals, purity, earth.
The second thing I notice is that it is, remarkably, improbably, Chardonnay. The vines were densely planted in the rocky, lava-streaked terraces of Mt. Etna’s contrada Guardiola, which rise 850 to 1,000 meters above the shining Mediterranean sea. The choice to plant Chardonnay was a striking departure from the more common native Etna white, Carricante. Chardonnay grown in volcanic soils not common, but this wine demonstrates why the grape is one of nature’s gifts to our palates, a tuning fork for terroir.
The fruit was vinified in stainless steel and aged in a mix of cement vat and oak tank, rendering a wine untainted by the promiscuities of the barrel. The results are sublime. It has the hallmarks of Chardonnay—to me that’s citrus and honeydew melon—but something extra, too. It has substance and weight. It has firm acidity. It has a honeyed quality, but without the amber of senescence. It has fruit like a burnished apple, like Bosc pear and quince, but the fruit doesn’t dominate. The overall effect is more like light than flavor: shimmery, golden-hued, rippling.
A rare wine that’s delicious alone but also shines with savory, autumnal foods. Try it with roasted squash, onion flan, crisp-skinned chicken, aged cheeses.
2015 Passopisciaro Passobianco Terre Siciliane
13.5% abv | About $50 (sample) Imported by T. Edward Wines